Mum-of-five now lives in fear of ‘silent killer’ HELLP syndrome after her heart suddenly stopped during labour

Michelle Brooks, 27, developed rare HELLP syndrome (Hemolysis, Elevated Liver enzymes and Low Platelets) during her third trimester (SWNS)Michelle Brooks, 27, developed rare HELLP syndrome (Hemolysis, Elevated Liver enzymes and Low Platelets) during her third trimester (SWNS)
Michelle Brooks, 27, developed rare HELLP syndrome (Hemolysis, Elevated Liver enzymes and Low Platelets) during her third trimester (SWNS) | SWNS

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“I feel like I’m living as a ticking time bomb. The condition has no symptoms after I have given birth so I could die at any point”

A mum who had to be ‘shaken back to life’ after her heart stopped during labour now lives in constant fear that she could fit and die at any moment.

Michelle Brooks, 27, developed rare HELLP syndrome (Hemolysis, Elevated Liver enzymes and Low Platelets) during her third trimester.

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HELLP is a rare liver and blood clotting disorder affecting pregnant women - which is fatal in a quarter of cases.

When mum-of-five, Michelle, developed deadly symptoms like high blood pressure, vomiting, fatigue, she was rushed to Conquest Hospital, Hastings, East Sussex.

Medics were forced to shake the expectant mum, from Hastings, East Sussex, into consciousness while she gave birth to daughter Honey, now four-months-old.

‘I feel like I’m living as a ticking time bomb’

Despite her heart-stopping for two minutes, both mother and baby survived but Michelle now runs the risk of a deadly fit at any moment.

She said: ‘’I feel like I’m living as a ticking time bomb.

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“The condition has no symptoms after I have given birth so I could die at any point.

“I’m under close observation and my blood pressure is slowly going down which is good news.

“It’s so rare there is no medication for it.

“They call it a silent killer.’’

‘I officially died for a few minutes’

Seven-month pregnant Michelle first started feeling chest pains – but her midwife assumed it was heartburn and told her to get some rest.

But she woke up at 2am unable to breathe and suffering a ‘powerful’ headache, vomiting and extreme fatigue.

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Her mum, Debbie Brooks, 50, drove her to the hospital while she screamed from the ‘excruciating pain’ in her entire body.

She said: "All the symptoms hit me completely out of the blue.

Doctors thought that I had pre-eclampsia and they had to deliver my little girl, Honey, as quickly as possible.”

Medics induced Michelle and began to deliver her baby.

She continued: "Minutes into labour my heart stopped beating.

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“I officially died for a few minutes, and I had to be brought back to life."

Doctors were then forced to shake terrified Michelle back to consciousness while they desperately tried to deliver the baby.

While drifting in and out of consciousness, doctors struggled to stabilise her extremely high pressure and had no choice but to perform an emergency C-Section.

‘I felt like I was going to die - I was just holding on for the baby’

Michelle’s baby Honey was born on the 18th September 2021 at Conquest Hospital, Hastings- 5lbs.

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Michelle said: “I don’t remember anything from the birth. I felt like I was going to die - I was just holding on for the baby.

“Doctors had to keep shaking me and touching me to keep me alive. All I remember is the excruciating pain I felt from head to toe.

“It was ten times more painful than labour. The doctors were baffled as to why I suffered it.

“I had multiple checks before it happened and there was nothing wrong.

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“The midwives were just trying to keep me holding onto life so they could deliver my baby safely.

"They did an incredible job and I owe my life to them.

“After Honey was delivered safely, I lost consciousness and doctors battled to keep me alive.

"I stayed on the ward and doctors told me it would take weeks for me to recover.”

HELLP has no symptoms

Michelle Brooks and baby Honey.  (Michelle Brooks / SWNS)Michelle Brooks and baby Honey.  (Michelle Brooks / SWNS)
Michelle Brooks and baby Honey. (Michelle Brooks / SWNS) | Michelle Brooks / SWNS

Michelle spent a week in the hospital recovering before doctors revealed that she had actually been suffering from HELLP syndrome the entire time.

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She was looked after in an SCBU ward due to the severity of her condition and Michelle was only able to see her baby after three days.

Doctors were only able to diagnose HELLP a week after the labour – after initially believing she was suffering from preeclampsia.

HELLP has no symptoms after birth and doctors have warned Michelle could fit and die at any moment.

The busy mum had to stay on bed rest to keep her blood pressure down, leaving her partner Perry, 27, to look after their five children.

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She is now struggling to juggle looking after her two-week-old baby and other children Bridget, nine, Mia, five, Rhys, four, Jack, two and new baby Honey.

Michelle said: “It was terrifying and came out of nowhere and now I’m living while constantly fearing death.

“It’s giving me dreadful anxiety that I could just drop dead at any moment.

‘’They said I have only a 45% chance of survival rate - it’s awful.

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“Thankfully my co-parent is doing a huge amount; he’s doing really well.

“It’s so rare I would never have thought my chest pains could be something so serious.

“But I want to help other women spot the signs and symptoms that I experienced.

"Slowly but surely, I’m getting back on my feet.

"I have good days and bad days but overall, I’m doing better and hopeful for the future."

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